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One Major Side Effect of Eating Watermelon, Says Dietitian

This juicy summertime staple should be part of your healthy eating routine all year round!
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

When it comes to much-hyped super fruits, you might automatically think of blueberries, cranberries, or cherries—not watermelon. However, this hot-weather, fan fave has surprising health benefits that most other fruits can't provide. (Read more: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Watermelon.)

Watermelon (Citrulus lantus) boasts many essential nutrients to stay healthy including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, B-vitamins, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and even protein. Newer studies show that watermelon also provides beneficial phytonutrients like lycopene and L-citrulline that have unique health benefits.

According to one research review paper about watermelon published in the journal Molecules, the researchers concluded that eating watermelon may help prevent vascular diseases, aging-related ailments, obesity, diabetes, ulcers, and several types of cancer.

While there are various benefits to eating watermelon, one major side effect of enjoying this water-rich fruit is reaping all the beneficial lycopene it provides.

watermelon from above

One major effect of eating watermelon is consuming lycopene—but what exactly is lycopene?

Lycopene is a reddish-hued carotenoid found in watermelon as well as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya.

Lycopene is known as an antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory properties throughout your body. There are more than 5,000 published studies about lycopene and its health benefits. This carotenoid has been shown in studies to provide anti-cancer, cardiovascular, anti-aging, skin protection, and other positive health-promoting benefits.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable (12.7 milligrams per 2-cup serving), making it one of the best ways to consume this beneficial micronutrient.

Why is lycopene so good for you?

Several studies have shown an association between a diet rich in the antioxidant lycopene, as well as those using supplemental lycopene, and reduced risk of some types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and lung cancers. In addition, mounting research suggested that higher levels of lycopene in the bloodstream help reduce skin damage caused by UV light.

More side effects of eating watermelon…

As an added benefit to all the lycopene you'll get when you enjoy watermelon, a two-cup serving has just 80 calories, thanks to the abundance of water in the fruit.

Watermelon is 92% water by weight, which not only helps to keep you hydrated it helps to keep you from overeating. Enjoy watermelon when you want something sweet and satisfying without blowing your daily calorie budget.

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As a registered dietitian, I recommend watermelon for anyone trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. The water and fiber combo in watermelon will add volume and satisfaction to your meals and snacks that will literally help keep hunger and cravings in check! Since watermelons are available fresh all year long, don't wait for the heat of the summer to enjoy all the benefits of this delicious and versatile fruit.

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Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
Julie Upton is an award-winning registered dietitian and communications specialist who has written thousands of articles for national media outlets, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, and USA Today. Read more about Julie
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